On January 1st, an important change occurred for pre-licensed Marriage Family Therapists and Professional Clinical Counselors. Rather than being referred to as interns, these individuals will now be titled “Associate Marriage and Family Therapist” or “Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist” and “Associate Professional Clinical Counselor” or “Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselor.”
As therapists, we know the importance of language and how words affect perceptions. Thanks to advocates in the field, the BBS came to realize that the term “intern” was an inappropriate title for clinicians with graduate degrees. The title of intern conveyed a sense of minimal training and, as a result, the BBS feared it would cause consumers to discount the abilities of pre-licensed MFTs and PCCs. Advocates in the field were also concerned this title increased the risk of exploitation, since intern positions are often minimally paid or completely unpaid. The hope is that this change will enhance the standing of pre-licensed clinicians. It also has the benefit of aligning the pre-licensed titles for social workers, MFTs, and PCCs.
What does this mean for your exam prep? Not much, really. The only way titles have appeared on past exams was in relation to advertising laws. The BBS is still finalizing the advertising regulations, so this would not be tested yet.
What does this mean for your advertising? As noted above, the BBS has not finalized the advertising regulations, so at this time you can refer to yourself as an Associate, using the official titles above, but you can hold off on changing your marketing materials until the BBS clarifies what is required of you.
Here is a FAQ the BBS posted regarding this change.